Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018

We are saddened to report that acclaimed author Ursula K. Le Guin passed on Monday, January 22nd, at her home in Portland, Oregon as confirmed by The New York Times. She was 88 years old.

Le Guin is internationally known for lending her distinct feminist voice to science fiction and fantasy, and was writing even as a child. At age 11, Ursula Le Guin submitted her first short story to Astounding Science Fiction. In 1964 her first Earthsea story, “The Word of Unbinding,” was published. The series continued over six books and eight short stories, including A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind. In 1970 The Left Hand of Darkness won both the Hugo and the Nebula, and the sequel, The Dispossessed, was also so honored when it was published in 1975.

Her upbringing in a house of anthropologists influenced works like the Hainish Cycle, with its tales of contact between futuristic human species. The Left Hand of Darkness envisioned a radical speculative future of sexual identity and gender identity, raising the bar for subsequent SFF works.

She received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1995; the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted her in 2001; and in 2003 The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named her the 20th Grand Master. Her life-long contribution to the shape of genre fiction cannot be understated, and that is the legacy she leaves behind to fans and readers across the world.

Le Guin is survived by her husband, son, two daughters, and four grandchildren. All our condolences go out to her family and friends. She will be deeply missed.

We leave you with words of wisdom from the incomparable author herself:

“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”

Check Out the Cover for the Song of Ice and Fire 2019 Calendar!

George R.R. Martin has tweeted the cover for the 2019 A Song of Ice and Fire calendar! It features a brooding image by artist John Jude Palencar.

Martin enthused about the calendar in his tweet, saying:

It’s a brand new year, and we’re proud to announce next years official calendar. 2019’s calendar will feature the stunning work of John Jude Palencar, who will bring his uniquely haunting visions of the SoI&F world eleven months from now.

Palencar has previously worked on Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Trilogy and Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series, among many other titles, and has won awards including Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators. You can see more Palencar’s work here!

Now about that cover image: Do we think that’s Jon Snow? Dolorous Edd? Perhaps an Anonymous Brooder? We will find out when the calendar hits stores on July 17th.

SFWA Names Peter S. Beagle as Newest Damon Knight Grand Master

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has announced that The Last Unicorn author Peter S. Beagle will be honored as the 34th Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for his lifetime contributions to the literature of science fiction and fantasy. Beagle joins such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Joe Haldeman, C.J. Cherryh, and previous Grand Master Jane Yolen.

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When Dragons Slay Reality: Chandler Klang Smith’s The Sky Is Yours

There have been a lot of books heralded as heirs to Infinite Jest, but I can happily say: this is it. I’ve found it.

After all the years of doorstopping tomes writing by white literary fiction males (many of whom I love) and all the years of terrified readers being cornered in coffeeshops by wild-eyed young men (and occasionally, um, me) who needed to explain David Foster Wallace’s masterwork, Chandler Klang Smith has unleashed her own slipstream, genrefluid monster of a book—that also happens to be fun, visceral, heartbreaking, and genuinely funny. The Sky Is Yours is bursting with ideas and characters, and I’d advise you take a break after reading it, because other books are probably going to seem a bit black-and-white for a while.

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Strange Magic: George Lucas’ Quietly Revolutionary Take On Love

There are plenty of family films out there to watch, from brand-new blockbusters to time-honoured classics. But this month marks the three-year anniversary of one film that is likely to be overlooked but really shouldn’t be: Strange Magic. Only recently added to Netflix’s catalogue here in the UK, it is a story which examines love and true inner beauty, and provides a truly valuable message—one that’s conspicuously lacking in so many other family films.

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Winter 2018 Anime: A Deal with the Devil

Welcome to the winter 2018 anime season, where all your dreams can come true—babysit cute kids, travel to Antarctica, tease your crush, collect Sanrio merchandise, go camping, be an idol, pilot an anthropomorphic robot girl, ride a bicycle, merge with a demon. With several highly-anticipated premieres, the return/reboot of some classics, and a few pleasant surprises, winter’s got a little something for everyone. Read on to get the details on six shows worth watching right now—plus, did I mention Anime Strike is dead? Go watch Made in Abyss and Land of the Lustrous.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Demons On A Mission

There’s nothing quite so disappointing as not being able to get your hands on a book you really want to read. Due to a peculiar combination of factors, including Barnes & Noble’s approach to (not) selling ebooks outside North America, my personal intense dislike of the .mobi format, and an unaccountable gap in Kobo availability, I’ve had to wait for the Subterranean Press editions of all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas. The third and latest to reach the shelves is Penric’s Mission, and it is utterly fantastic.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Get Out and The Shape of Water Nominated for Best Picture Oscars

The nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards were released this morning, and included a number of surprises for genre fans: Most notably, Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water were among the Best Picture nominees, with both men also recognized for Best Director and both film’s leads (Daniel Kaluuya and Sally Hawkins, respectively) earning Best Actor/Actress nods. In addition, The Shape of Water led the list of this year’s Oscar films with a total of 13 nominations.

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Power and Memory: The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

I’ve been hearing about Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing for a while. Often with superlative adjectives attached, usually from people whose taste I trust. It’s hard to believe this much advance hype, so I approached the novella with an attitude of dubious caution, much as one might approach a strange cat that one would dearly like to pet.

Especially since I’d also heard it was both angry and tragic.

Well. Well.

Well.

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Read an Excerpt from The Only Harmless Great Thing

In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island.

These are the facts.

Now these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.

Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing is a heart-wrenching alternative history that imagines an intersection between the Radium Girls and noble, sentient elephants. Available now from Tor.com Publishing.

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Announcing Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction Anthology

Tor.com will celebrate its tenth anniversary on July 20, 2018. It’s hard to believe. I feel like we started yesterday… or was it a million years ago? I can’t decide. What I do know is that we are as excited today as we were then. We wanted to build a place that treated science fiction and fantasy (and related subjects) with gravitas and humor, a place to have fun without shying away from weightier, more thoughtful subjects. In short, we wanted to build a place where we wanted to hang out. Much has changed over the years but the essence remains the same—we’re still talking about the things we love. Through all the hashtags and trending topics, we still find the key to success is focusing on good, solid content.

Short fiction has been a corner stone of the site since the day we launched. I am excited to announce that, as part of our celebration to mark the occasion, we will be publishing a hardcover anthology of some of my favorite stories over the past decade. Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction will be out early this fall. Below is the list of contributing authors. It’s such a stellar group, I really couldn’t not be more proud to have been involved with these stories.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Komarr, Chapter 6

Chapter five ended with the announcement that an unexpected corpse had been discovered associated with the wreckage of the cargo ship/soletta array collision. Our mysterious male space corpse was in a position and on a trajectory that suggests that he was on one of those things at the time of collision. His origin and identity are unknown, and his clothes—the remains of his entirely unexceptional ship knits—have been mostly destroyed by exposure to hard vacuum.

I know I’m supposed to be intrigued by the mystery of the corpse, and I am! I am dutifully intrigued, or I was, the first time I read Komarr, when I didn’t already know who he was. For first-timers, the corpse is a frozen enigma. Is he someone we’ve heard of? Is he someone entirely new? Will he blow Miles’s case wide open? All intriguing questions! After the first time you read a mystery, you know the answers to questions like this and you get to focus your attention on the details.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Miriam Black Series Sweepstakes!

The Raptor and the Wren, the fifth book in Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series, is available January 23rd from Saga Press—and to celebrate, we want to send you a set of all five books in hardcover!

Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die. This makes her daily life a living hell, especially when you can’t do anything about it, or stop trying to. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. She merely needs to touch you—skin to skin contact—and she knows how and when your final moments will occur.

In the fifth book of the series, Miriam continues her journey to find answers on how to change her fate and begin to make right some of what she’s done wrong. Armed with new knowledge that suggests a great sacrifice must be made to change her fate, Miriam continues her quest and learns that she must undo the tragedies of her past to move forward. One such tragedy is Wren, who is now a teen caught up in a bad relationship with the forces that haunt Miriam and has become a killer, just like Miriam. Black must try to save the girl, but what’s ahead is something she thought impossible…

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on January 22nd. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on January 26th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

The End Is Nigh: Chuck Wendig’s The Raptor and the Wren

There’s something about Miriam Black. Maybe it’s her addictive, destructive personality. Maybe it’s her ability to see how you die or her magical power to control birds with her mind. Or maybe it’s just that she’s a total badass with an attitude as harsh as her haircut. Whatever that brutal bite of personality is, Miriam brings it in full force in The Raptor and the Wren, the fifth book in Chuck Wendig’s fiery, ferocious series.

[“And that’s when she knows how to finish it.”]

You Can’t Go Back to the Way Things Were — Star Trek Discovery’s “Vaulting Ambition”

There are three separate-but-connected things going on in this week’s Star Trek: Discovery, and the heart of each and every one of them is embodied by the line of dialogue I borrowed for the headline, a line spoken directly by both Emperor Georgiou and by Lieutenant Stamets. Everyone wants to go back to the way things were. Stamets wants Culber to be alive and the two of them to be happy. L’Rell wants Voq not to suffer (for all that she insists that Voq’s sacrifice was voluntary and necessary). Georgiou wants her foster daughter back. And everyone on the U.S.S. Discovery just wants to get home.

The one person who does get things back the way they were? Lorca. Go fig’.

[Kelpians — THEM’S GOOD EATIN’!!!!!!!!]